The petroleum ministry and private firms, faced with serious charges linked to favouritism and unfair gains in oil and gas exploration by the government auditor, are due to present their case next week in an exit conference linked to the audit that slammed them.
Three private companies, Reliance Industries Ltd, Cairn Energy and British Gas will formally respond to the audit findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its draft report over irregularities in developing some of India's biggest oil and gas fields.
The CAG is holding an exit conference on July 12 with the petroleum ministry, which in turn has asked the three private companies to come prepared with their replies.
The ministry wrote to the three firms on June 28.
"You have already received the relevant portions of the draft audit report …and are requested to keep the replies ready and come for the meeting on 12th July, 2011," the ministry's letter said.
The CAG, in its draft report submitted to the petroleum ministry on June 7, had highlighted the apparent irregularities by the petroleum ministry and the oil regulator (Director-General of Hydrocarbons) in auditing capital costs, besides allowing concessions to leading private companies including Reliance, Cairn Energy and BG.
A former CAG official told HT that for all performance audits conducted by the CAG, an entry and exit conference is usually conducted with the audited entities.
Refuting charges that CAG did not give enough opportunities to the private operators to present their view before the auditor, the CAG on June 27 had said that "interactive meetings were held with two operators, including Reliance Industries Limited, prior to the finalisation of the draft performance audit report."
"At no stage did this office refuse any operator an opportunity to respond to observations made by us," the CAG had said.